My path from tourist guide to owning a one-woman company
Finding the profession of tourist guide was a great luck for me. Until then, I had studied what interested me, but without having a concrete idea of what career direction it would take. When I heard the stories about the daily work of a tourist guide, it really appealed to me. All the topics that fascinate me, from history, languages, architecture, urban development, everyday life, traditions and the local-typical of a city or region are packed into this profession. I get to show Vienna and Austria to curious and interested people – we discuss topics together and make cross connections. Another great enrichment is that I learn from my guests about other approaches in their countries.
Through inquiries and feedback, I am always made aware of what is going well for us. I often don’t notice it myself anymore.
My desire to discover, understand backgrounds and prepare topics for guests is unbroken.
After 20 years of working in this profession, I still look forward to every single tour, every new topic and the many different people I get to meet. Vienna and the regions that can be reached in a day trip are my wonderful workplace. This is an incredible gift! The history is tangible and the present always builds in some way on what has gone before.
Current developments interest my guests very much, they also want to know what I think about it and how the people here deal with the challenges.
These conversations always result in insights and impulses on both sides. I first registered the business in the early summer of 2001 and started doing city tours alongside my studies in Comparative Literature and Portuguese and my job in adult education. In the same year I started the “Ensemble Tourdion” with three colleagues.
With harp, lute, drum, me on the flute and our eight vocal cords we led as newly certified tour guides through the old town of Vienna. Especially the famous old courtyards were wonderful “sound spaces” with great acoustics. They were made for our songs and music pieces and the stories about medieval Vienna.
In 2009 I decided to become a leader, gave my work a name and founded the company artemezzo. I was the first and only self-employed person in my extended family and it stayed that way for 20 years. There was a lot of encouragement and also concern around me….
Isn’t that more of a hobby?
Is it possible to survive or better make a half decent living with guiding?
The answer is, yes, I can. Vienna is a very good market for this business. Unless a pandemic breaks out and lasts two years 😉 My little one-woman company was doing fine until Corona and will be fine again for the foreseeable future.
The fact that I am able to cope with the current crisis in spite of everything is on the one hand due to my dear regular customers who have filled every lockdown window with a few requests and tours that actually take place.
On the other hand, the numbers of the good years before 2020 help me for the application for the state aid. Without the relief pots, my world would look very different. I am fortunate in that I meet all the criteria with my many years of self-employment. I’d much rather be out on the town with guests and make my money off of my own efforts and creativity.
I am looking positively into the future and am very much looking forward to the moment when I can pursue my passion again.
Being a tourist guide in Austria is self-employed, it is a restricted trade that requires a professional examination and an entrepreneurial examination. The strong seasonal fluctuations do not lend themselves well to a salaried position. The vast majority of Austria Guides, which is our modern job title, are EPUs (one-person businesses).